A learned comparative expression measure for Affymetrix GeneChip DNA microarrays

Will Sheffler, Eli Upfal, John Sedivy and William Stafford Noble

The Computational Systems Bioinformatics Conference, Stanford, CA, August 8-11, 2005. pp. 144-154.


Perhaps the most common question that a microarray study can ask is, "Between two given biological conditions, which genes exhibit changed expression levels?" Existing methods for answering this question either generate a comparative measure based upon a static model, or take an indirect approach, first estimating absolute expression levels and then comparing the estimated levels to one another.

We present a method for detecting changes in gene expression between two samples based on data from Affymetrix GeneChips. Using a library of over 200,000 known cases of differential expression, we create a learned comparative expression measure (LCEM) based on classification of probe-level data patterns as changed or unchanged. LCEM uses perfect match probe data only; mismatch probe values did not prove to be useful in this context. LCEM is particularly powerful in the case of small microarry studies, in which a regression-based method such as RMA cannot generalize, and in detecting small expression changes. At the levels of selectivity that are typical in microarray analysis, the LCEM shows a lower false discovery rate than either MAS5 or RMA trained from a single chip. When many chips are available to RMA, LCEM performs better on two out of the three data sets, and nearly as well on the third. Performance of the MAS5 log ratio statistic was notably bad on all datasets.

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